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First-Ever Documentary on Joseph Campbell to TX 26 March 21.30 TG4
25 Mar 2014 : Deirdre Molumby
A new film from the Belfast-based production company Bóthar Ard, will be the first documentary record of the life of Irish poet and lyricist, Joseph Campbell. The Irish language documentary, entitled ‘Joseph Campbell, Aisling & Íobairt’, is directed and presented by Macdara Vallely. The 60 minute production will air on TG4 this Wednesday evening at 9.30pm.

Born in Belfast, Joseph Campbell is best-known for his lyrics for ‘My Lagan Love’ and ‘Gartan Mother’s Lullaby’ which were both set to music to become globally-renowned Gaelic songs. However, little else is known about Campbell’s life, though he was, besides being a poet, a revolutionary and the founder of the first school dedicated to Irish Studies.

Macdara Vallely writes, directs and presents ‘Joseph Campbell’. Born in Armagh, Vallely has written and directed a number of shorts and feature films which have seen both national and international success on the festival circuit. His first feature, ‘Peacefire’ won Best First Feature at the Galway Film Fleadh. His feature ‘Babygirl’ was released theatrically in the US on October 2013 having won Best Irish Feature at the JDIFF, Best Feature at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and the Panavision Independent Spirit Award.

Through this documentary, Macdara traces unexplored details of Campbell’s story, including the man’s marriage to Nancy Maude, his period of internment in the Curragh camp, and his departure for New York where he founded the first Irish Studies School in Fordham University. Campbell would later return to his old home in Co. Wicklow, where he would die alone, broke and unrecognised for his many achievements in 1944.

The documentary was filmed in Ireland and New York. It includes interviews with family members, historians and poets who reveal the lyricist’s personality and motivations behind his work. The programme also features music from Karen Casey, Niall Vallely, and Mick Maloney, as well as performances from the Armagh Rhymers.

Producer Sorcha Nic Eochagáin, says of ‘Joseph Campbell’: “By the end of the production we were all engrossed in his life and especially his relationship with wife, Nancy Maude, granddaughter of the British Royal Equerry of the time. I feel this is as much of Nancy’s story as it is of Campbell’s. Her strength and passion shine through.

”Joseph Campbell truly was a fascinating and complex person. The more we learned of him, the more difficult it was to understand why he wasn't more widely known or respected. This was Macdara’s, usually a feature film director, first documentary. His and [cinematographer] Nuria Roldos’ cinematic approach to capturing Campbell's story adds its own poetic beauty. I really hope that Campbell will receive more recognition from this.”

‘Joseph Campbell’ was produced by Sorcha Nic Eochagáin and Connla McCann. Nuria Roldos, AEC, was DoP for the production while Laura Sinnott was on sound. Gerard Brady edited the documentary and Niall Vallely composed its music. The concept was by Máirtín Ó Muilleoir.

‘Joseph Campbell, Aisling & Íobairt’ is produced by Bóthar Ard with funding from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund.

See a trailer for the documentary here:

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